(UPDATED, noon Wednesday, with comment from Bedke.)
The House Ethics Committee will reconvene Aug. 2 — this time to hear complaints against Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird.
The announcement, sent out to House members electronically Tuesday, was short on details. The committee said it conducted a preliminary investigation into two complaints “alleging conduct unbecoming a representative,” and found probable cause in connection with parts of each complaint.
Kelcie Moseley-Morris of the Idaho Capital Sun first reported on Tuesday’s announcement.
In June, Boise State Public Radio reported that Giddings faced an ethics investigation after she publicly shared personal information about “Jane Doe,” a 19-year-old House staffer who said she was sexually assaulted by then-Rep. Aaron Von Ehlinger, R-Lewiston. Von Ehlinger denied the allegation, but resigned from the House after a two-day Ethics Committee hearing.
Giddings, serving her third House term, is running for lieutenant governor, as is House Speaker Scott Bedke. and former state Rep. Luke Malek.
Not surprisingly, Tuesday’s ethics committee announcement quickly took a political turn.
In a Facebook post Tuesday, Giddings blasted Bedke, saying the speaker had “weaponized” the ethics hearing process.
“It comes as no surprise that Speaker Bedke … is trying to use his position and perhaps tens of thousands of your hard-earned tax dollars in a blatant attempt to defeat me, his primary opponent,” Giddings wrote.
Bedke fired back Wednesday morning. He says he joined 24 House colleagues in calling for an ethics committee investigation on May 3, 18 days before she announced her candidacy for lieutenant governor.
“Rep. Giddings is now attempting to deflect and use the investigation as a fundraising tactic,” Bedke said in a Wednesday news release. “I believe all elected officials should be held to a higher ethical standard — that was the intent of adding my name to the letter.”
The Ethics Committee’s public meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in room EW42, in the Statehouse’s garden level. If necessary, the hearing will continue on Aug. 3.